The woman allegedly launched the attack after developing a “visceral hatred” for the victim, an untidy hoarder she blamed for being unable to sell her house.
A businesswoman murdered her neighbour using a spade “like a machete” before telling her partner “it’s over, I’ve done it”, a court heard on Tuesday.
Debby Foxwell, 40, allegedly launched the attack after developing a “visceral hatred” for former councillor Louise Lotz, an untidy hoarder she blamed for being unable to sell her house.
Long-running tensions between the two are said to have exploded after Miss Lotz, 64, used a bin to block a gap in the shared fence Foxwell, a director of a business support services firm, was fixing. She then grabbed a phone Foxwell was using to film her.
Prosecutor Alan Blake described the attack in the tree-lined street in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, where homes sell for more than £600 000, as “sustained, brutal and merciless”.
Liam Graham, who lodged at Miss Lotz’s mid-terrace house, told St Albans Crown Court that Foxwell had thrown clay pots at their window and swung a lawn mower at it before kicking open the front door and entering the house armed with a spade.
“She put the spade through a great big plasma TV and smashed a laptop into a million pieces,” Mr Graham said.
The jury was told that Foxwell shouted “there’s the b***h’ and Miss Lotz ran out of the house. She was “hammering away like mad” on a neighbour’s door, begging “help me, help me”, as the defendant approached.
Mr Graham said Foxwell then made the spade “into something like a machete” by turning it on its side and hitting her victim four or five times. “I was screaming at her to stop. I tried to intervene once. She turned and said, ‘You best stay out of the way if you know what’s good for you’,” he added.
Foxwell’s partner, Dutch-born Anthonie Vroon, said she returned to their house and said “it’s over, I’ve done it”.
“She said it in a flat tone of voice, like she was reading from a book,” he added.
Describing the moments leading up to Miss Lotz’s death, Mr Vroon, 36, said Foxwell had a “frustrating” conversation with a 999 call handler and ‘smashed the phone on the ground’. He admitted her temper could be ‘white hot’ at times.
Mr Blake said: “The sustained ferocity of the attack and the number of blows make it plain she [Foxwell] intended to kill her.”
Miss Lotz, a therapist who was a Liberal Democrat councillor from 2008 to 2011, had lived in her home for “many years”.
Mr Blake said she was “something of a hoarder”. The interior of her home was ‘cluttered’ and the garden was “overgrown and unloved”. Mr Vroon said he and Foxwell blamed the state of Miss Lotz’s house for being unable to sell theirs, which had been on the market for “probably longer than half a year”. Miss Lotz and Foxwell “frequently” reported each other to police from 2015, a year after Foxwell moved in. Foxwell was prosecuted for assault and criminal damage in 2016.
Community protection notices were issued to both women on July 23 last year, banning them from harassing, trespassing or taking photos of each other.
But Foxwell’s “visceral hatred” of Miss Lotz intensified, Mr Blake said, and three weeks before the killing last August CCTV recorded her swinging her handbag into her neighbour’s head as she walked past.
Foxwell denies murder but admits manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility.
The case continues.